How Long Can You Leave A Cat Alone?

Do Cats Miss You?

How long can you leave a cat alone?

The doting cat dad with two weeks of vacation days to use (or lose) wants to know. The cat mom whose promotion has her traveling twice as much as she used to wants to know. All of us cat people want to know: How long can you leave a cat alone? And do cats miss you when you’re gone?

Brown Tabby Cat Alone looking out the window.

A Treat For Your Thoughts, Kitty?

Don’t you wish there was a way to know what your kitty was thinking? Cats are known for being mysterious creatures. Their aloof independence is one of the things we love about them. It’s undeniable that cats have a fierce independent streak. But does being independent equate to not needing companionship? After all, that furry pal who hides under the bed every time your neighbor stops by is the same furry pal who sleeps right by your head every night. Or maybe your feet. Does your cat love sitting on the couch with you on the condition there are a few feet of personal space in-between? Yeah, ours, too.

Of course, sometimes we get blessed with ALL the snuggles. Just try to find a cat owner who hasn’t put off a trip to the kitchen or the bathroom because an adorable ball of fluff chose to circle up in their lap.

Cat people know there’s a whole lot of soft, sensitive, soul underneath that fuzzy coat. The attitude that makes your cat look you right in the eye as it nonchalantly pushes something off the counter – is only part of a feline’s complicated psyche. It’s probably why figuring out how much care your cat needs when you travel can be a significant source of stress for cat owners.

A cat alone stares out the window past a vase of sunflowers.

What’s the Purrfect Amount of Attention?

The pet blog PawCulture checked in with Dr. Carlo Siracusa, the Director of Animal Behavior Services at the University of Pennsylvania Ryan Hospital for Companion Animals to get a professional opinion on the subject of cats and loneliness. Dr. Siracusa explains that cats, “want to share affection in a ‘feline’ fashion, which is a few rubs and sharing the same couch. Keeping proximity is in fact the way that cats show affection. Problems arise when people want to interact with cats in human terms — hugging, kissing, and prolonged petting. Many cats find this behavior rude and unacceptable and run away. Cats will let us understand when they want a few strokes.” And yes, he confirms every traveling cat parent’s biggest fear: “If cats don’t have the possibility to share spaces, proximity, and time with their preferred buddies, they will get lonely.”

Leaving A Cat Alone 101

Anyone who’s spent any significant amount of time with cats isn’t going to be surprised by Dr. Siracusa’s confirmation that our feline friends love and need us. But, life being life, there are times you will need to leave your cat alone. Whether it’s for an overnight, a weekend, or if you need to leave your cat alone for a week, a little knowledge and preparation will help ensure that your kitty stays healthy, happy, and comfortable.

First things first: who will be checking in on them? Securing a knowledgeable pet sitter is the most important thing to do. That semi-irresponsible – but painfully convenient – little sister of your best friend’s co-worker who happens to live on your block? She’s probably NOT the best choice when it comes to choosing someone to properly care for your pet.

Make sure you are leaving your cat with someone who takes this responsibility seriously.  Sure, if you’re only going away for a day it’s a pretty safe bet that your cat will be just fine if your neighbor swings over with a can of wet food, refills the water dish and freshens up the litter. But if you are leaving for longer, your cat will require more maintenance. Luckily, services like Meowtel.com make it easy for you to find the qualified help you need. You can choose between sitters like Natasha, a vet tech, Sarah a volunteer at her local animal rescue, or Sabrina, who is so good with cats that the last people she cat sat for called hiring her, “a most life-changing experience for us!”

Happy cat being petted.

Leaving your cat alone for a week?

Leaving a cat alone for a week? You’re going to need some help. Of course there are the basic survival requirements like making sure your cat is being properly fed, has access to plenty of fresh, clean water and gets their litter box cleaned daily. If your cat needs medication that’s a whole additional level of responsibility. But if you are leaving your cat alone for more than a day or two, you’ll also want to make sure your cat’s emotional needs are being met. Is your bestie up to the task? Or is a professional, reliable, and reputable cat sitter your best option?

The purrfect cat sitter should at least meet these three criteria:

They happily spend time in your home, with your pet. Remember Dr. Siracusa’s expert knowledge on a feline’s idea of a quality hang? Find someone willing to patiently sit on your couch, giving your pet enough time and space to warm up and approach on their own, for a head-butt or a little scratch behind the ears.

They really get cats. Can you imagine hiring a dog walker to pet sit your cat? Just picture a well-meaning Joe treating Floofy the same way they treat Fido. Make sure you find someone who understands that cats operate on their own terms, otherwise your favorite furry pal may end up under the bed.

They communicate. No matter how well you plan and prepare to ensure your kitty is taken care of, it’s normal to worry a bit while you’re away. A picture or quick video of your contented fur baby is worth a thousand words.

Bringing Up Baby

What about leaving kittens alone?

If you have a very young cat or a kitten, you should plan to provide them with extra stimulation, supervision, and socialization. Of course, the tiniest ones can’t be left alone at all. Did you know that bottle-fed kittens need to eat every two hours? They need CONSTANT care. So, if you’ve somehow inherited a litter of week-old kittens, just go ahead and cancel your vacation. But, chances are that your new kitten is at least old enough to be eating on its own. Just make sure you have someone giving it enough love, affection, and play time while you’re gone.

So, how long can you leave a cat alone?

Basically, the answer to the question: “Can you leave cats alone for a week?” is no.

Nope. Negative. Nyet.  Don’t do it – it’s a really bad idea.

Even if you disregard a cat’s psychological and emotional needs, think about basic survival. What if they gorge on three days worth of food in one sitting and then get sick? Do you enjoy drinking water that’s been sitting in an open cup for a few days? What if they get hurt, or stuck in one of those weird places cats like to hide? It’s just not a good idea to leave a cat for longer than a day or so.

Your cat deserves to be treated like the domesticated King or Queen of its jungle that it is. And you deserve to travel without any nagging worries about your pet’s health. Image how much more confident you’ll be giving that important work presentation when you know your sweet cat is happy. And c’mon, what good is a vacation if you spend your beach days worried about your four-legged friend back in the city? Invest in your kitty’s health – and in your peace of mind – by hiring a dedicated cat sitter.

A great cat sitter high-fives a happy cat.

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